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Tigers may challenge umpire abuse fine

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RICHMOND is looking at challenging the $5000 fine imposed on the club after the AFL found one of its staff had abused a field umpire at the end of the Tigers-Fremantle round 11 clash at the MCG.

The Age understands that long-time club trainer Sam Pupillo remains adamant he did not direct a cheating accusation towards the game's field umpires after the club's 12-point defeat.

Pupillo, a virtual volunteer with the club, has stood by his version of events despite being warned by the club he could lose his job should it appeal on his behalf and be proved wrong.

He claims he directed his comments at Fremantle personnel - calling them cheats - as they were leaving the ground and that the umpires were 30 metres away.

It is the second time this season the club has been penalised by the AFL for umpire abuse.

On the first occasion, coach Damien Hardwick swore at an emergency umpire towards the end of the third quarter of last month's Dreamtime Game.


Hardwick was originally fined $5000 also, but after pleading his case to the AFL, football boss Adrian Anderson suspended the fine for a three-year period.

The Tigers coach was forced to make a formal apology to the umpires. He will umpire a game of football as part of his sanction later this season.

The Pupillo incident three weeks later saw Richmond eight days ago issued with a ''please explain''.

The club responded by explaining Pupillo's version of events. While the trainer remains adamant he did not abuse umpires, the AFL chose to believe its own official who heard the comment and remains equally adamant it was aimed not at Fremantle staff or players but at him.

Anderson, who said the league had taken into account that the previous incident was Hardwick's first offence, said the Tigers were within their rights to appeal the fine but confirmed the club risked a bigger fine should the abuse charge stand.

The Tigers will decide before Friday whether or not to appeal on behalf of their trainer but should the fine stand the club will pay it on his behalf.

After the Hardwick incident Anderson said: ''Regulations such as these exist because of the need for the AFL competition to set a positive example on conduct towards umpires.''

The AFL match review panel on Monday found that Richmond forward Shane Edwards had no case to answer following suggestions he had made contact with umpire Matt Stevic's chest during the Greater Western Sydney game at Skoda Stadium. Stevic had no recollection of the incident.

Negligent contact with an umpire draws a fine of $1200, with reckless contact incurring a $2600 fine.